Farmer's Day special: Five apps for farmers

These select apps are great tools to boost crop productivity, control pest attacks, learn about the weather and discover mandi prices



India owes a lot to its farmers. But unfavourable import/export policies and the myriad troubles in connecting to consumers directly have made life difficult for them. Populist measures such as loan waivers and back-to-back hikes in MSP in the last few years have not helped them either.

Be it during a good monsoon or at times of drought, when food prices go through the roof, the condition of the small farmers is the same — most of them live a hand-to-mouth existence, and are in dire need of whatever help they can get. Technology can make a big difference to farmers’ lives; but how effective have tech interventions been so far?

A BCG report released last year says the rural areas are where much of the growth in internet use will happen for the rest of the decade.

The number of connected rural consumers is expected to increase from about 120 million (in 2015) to almost 315 million in 2020. Many start-ups have begun to address the vacuum for technology solutions in the hinterland.

On the occasion of ‘Farmers’ Day’ on December 23, we take a look at some of the fastest growing applications in the agriculture space. Apps promoted by the Centre — MKisan, Kisan Suvidha and others — are, however, yet to kick off in a big way.

MyAgriGuru

Total downloads: 3.25 lakh

Key users: Madhya Pradesh (22%), Maharashtra (20%), Uttar Pradesh (14%), Rajashtan (8%), Delhi (7%), Gujarat (7%), Bihar (4%), Haryana (4%), Karanataka (4%)

Features : This free android app created by Mahindra Agri Solutions provides complete information on 16 crops including wheat, paddy, bengal gram, chilli, cotton, maize, mustard, soyabean, banana, onion, potato and tomato. It also provides advisory on sowing practices and pest management. It lets the user interact with agri experts and peer farmers through the Agri Buzz feature. Since its launch in February, more than 35,000 interactions have occurred on MyAgriGuru (over 400 happening each day).

The app also provides APMC mandi prices across the country, exchange-traded agri commodity prices and weather forecasts. There is demand-driven content creation too, where topics farmers are interested in are picked up, and information on them is published under the section Agri Update. The app is available in Hindi and English.

Krishi Mitr- RML Farmer

Total downloads: 14 lakh

Key users: Maharashtra, MP, Gujarat, Karnataka

Features : RML AgTech’s app helps farmers improve their profitability. It helps farmers decide what to grow, how to grow and where to sell. Along with basic information on about 70 crops and information on their prices in 900 mandis pan-India, the app also provides information on weather and pest control techniques. The app has a paid version too, that costs ₹500 to ₹1,000 a month.

Here, everything gets personalised for the farmer — from weather forecast, crop selection, production and harvest methodologies. It is supported through ground intervention by field staff and through crop doctors available on call. This includes an advance alert if there is a pest attack, and entire nutrition schedule planning.

Additionally, the company also helps farmers in the export business through precision agriculture techniques on ways to control chemical residues on their crops.

Jayalaxmi Agro Tech (JAT)

Total downloads: 2.3 lakh

Key users: Karnataka (80%), Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra

Features : Jayalaxmi Agro Tech has several crop-specific mobile applications. It is available in English and four regional languages — Kannada, Telugu, Marathi and Oriya.

The app can be downloaded through a mobile hotspot from AgriPole, a hardware device sold by the company that serves as a portable hotspot tower that stores data and shares it to smartphones via Bluetooth. This addresses the problem of poor internet connectivity in the rural areas. The app provides information on sowing and transplantation methods, fertilisers to be used and their dosage, also advices on pest management. Users receive reminders via the app on schedules for irrigation and harvest and on ideal insemination periods and vaccination cycles for livestock (there is a separate app for animal husbandry and horticulture).

The app is free for all users and can be downloaded on android or iOS phones. The company uses the data collected through its app to do back-end analytics. It identifies trends in disease and pest-related information based on the farmers’ browsing patterns and alerts farmers in the neighbouring areas.

UNESCO has done a case study on the JAT app as a part of a series highlighting how digital solutions can help people with low skills or low literacy levels use technology in ways that support skill development.

Plantix

Total downloads: 9 lakh

Key users: AP, Telangana – 70%

Features : It is a plant disease and pest diagnostic app developed by Progressive Environmental and Agricultural Technologies (PEAT), Germany, in collaboration with its knowledge and extension partner, ICRISAT, and the Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University.

Farmers take pictures of the affected crop and upload them on the app. The photographs are analysed using artificial intelligence algorithms and the results returned immediately to the farmer. Critical information on symptoms, triggers, chemical as well as biological treatments are provided. All pictures sent via the app are geo-tagged, enabling real-time monitoring of pest and diseases.

The resulting metadata provides valuable insights into the spatial distribution of cultivated crops and the most significant plant diseases, in the form of high resolution maps that could be used for planning by the authorities.

The database has half a million pictures covering 35 crops worldwide and offers prescriptions for over 175 crop diseases.

The app is a free download and available on android phones. If there is no internet, the app stores the picture and releases it to the cloud when there is connectivity.

The app also has a library of images of different pests and their control measures, which the farmers can access offline. Currently the app is available in Telugu and Hindi, and can soon be downloaded in Tamil, Kannada and Marathi.

Skymet

Total downloads: 2.1 lakh

Key users: Places wherever there is a weather event

Features : It is a weather package that comes with news and videos, and is available in eight regional languages. It can be downloaded for free on Android/iOS phones.

The app updates data on a real-time basis as it is connected with more than 6,500 weather stations. If the user is near an automatic weather station, the app will automatically pick up the sensor data and show various weather parameters — temperature and rainfall for the day and also forecasts for next seven – to – fifteen days.

And, unlike a few other weather apps, the Skymet app provides village-level data, which are of greater use to a farmer.

The app also alerts users on any lightning or thunderstorm activity in a 50-km radius of their region to help them take the necessary precautions

The app also provides updates on national weather events such as hurricanes and cyclones. It brings stories that impact farmers, such as, say, news on a hailstorm in a region than can result in crop loss.

Read the rest of this article by Signing up for Portfolio.It's completely free!

What You'll Get





MORE FROM BUSINESSLINE


 Getting recommendations just for you...
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor